Score: 93+/100 (9.3+ out of 10)
There's something about these detective murder-mysteries and crime dramas that just captivate the imagination. They have you glued to the pages, hanging on every word, every clue, wondering what's going to happen next. Corruption by Parker Samuels is a great example of this type of novel.
The novel stars a loose-cannon detective, Griff Hunter, who narrowly avoids being killed in a shootout as he tears off the band-aid to several cold cases and mysterious activity. He scratches and claws to get to the bottom of several dead bodies mysteriously discovered in parks across the city over the course of 20-30 years. What initially appears to be a gang-related string of murders devolves into something even deeper and sicker, involving corruption within the police department itself and a terrifying villain.
WARNING: the following may contain spoiler & descriptions of triggering/sensitive content.
With a gang leader, Benni, and other leading suspects behind bars, these murders begin to look like an inside job—the work of a rogue cop named Donovan. Donovan proves to be a menacing villain, the perfect contrast to Hunter with a parallel life and career in the force. You almost wonder if things were different if Donovan could've turned out “good” like Hunter or if Hunter could've turned out murderous and evil like Donovan.
Over his several decades in the police department, Donovan was known to have blackmailed several homosexual officers with videos of them in the act in attempt to make himself untouchable in the department, all the while committing absolutely heinous crimes of increasing severity—everything from simple misconduct to rape and eventually even murder. He was eventually picked up as a mole for the Poliakoff mob within the department, and it begs the question if there was any chance of redemption for him between that time and his first murder.
It is believed that he drugged and poisoned multiple victims, intentionally making these deaths look like overdoses. He specifically seemed to target homosexual men. So, while he's not the over-arching villain of the book (with a boss working over him), Donovan proves to be the most direct and terrifying face of evil that we read about.
And that makes the ending all the more satisfying. The whole book, you're just dying to see this crooked serial-rapist, serial-killer get his comeuppance, especially since he's constantly trying to kill our hero. And, my gosh, is the comeuppance so satisfying!
Again, it plays with the idea that sometimes the good guys have to do bad things and play outside the rules or the norms, especially when dealing with a villain with no ethics or morals. We will say that the final physical altercation, while captivating and satisfying, is strangely kinda funny and awkward when you think of how Hunter struggles his way out of the situation, particularly while he's being strangled. Like, would that really work in real life? It's one of those suspension of disbelief things. It did have us on the edge of our seat and cringing though!
Speaking of “funny,” this book is actually a bit funny. Despite all the murder and sexual things, it strangely takes a lighthearted, humorous approach. For example, no matter what's happening—no matter who is dead or dying or if his own life is in danger—Hunter always seems to have time to consider how his sunburns hurt and how he should've used sunscreen. He also has a light will-they/won't-they romantic angle with a new strawberry-blonde female detective named Crunch, probably this contest's first nominee for “Hottest Character.” Hilariously, Hunter really wants Crunch to become a police captain someday just so that he can call her “Captain Crunch.” This is kinda how his brain is wired and how this book reads. It's surprisingly fun and light given the subject matter.
Check it out on Amazon!